By Victor Okoye
Abuja, Nov. 17, 2020 The Super Eagles and the Leone Stars of Sierra Leone on Tuesday played out a goalless draw in the return fixture of their 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier in Freetown.
The result meant the Super Eagles have delayed picking their 2021 AFCON qualifying ticket.
Naija247news reports that the Super Eagles were held to a disappointing 4-4 draw by the Leone Stars in the first leg fixture at the Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin City.
Spurred on by a special incentive of a blank cheque made by President Julius Maada Bio should they defeat the Super Eagles, the Leone Stars approached the return leg with some gusto, and sought to wear down the Eagles with their team work, cohesion and fast breaks.
However, it was the Super Eagles that created the early chances, with Captain Ahmed Musa shooting wide and goalkeeper Mohamed Kamara saving from Kelechi Iheanacho within the first three minutes.
In the 11th minute, Mohamed Turay, who pestered the Eagles’ defence relentlessly, headed over the bar from a cross by Kei Kamara.
Maduka Okoye saved from Kwame Quee in the 22nd minute and on the half hour, Iheanacho wasted a great chance to put Nigeria ahead by shooting wild just outside the box.
Two minutes later, Joseph Ayodele-Aribo, needing just to place the ball beyond the goalkeeper in the box, fluffed his lines.
Iheanacho wasted another opportunity in the 37th minute, before the Leone Stars came agonisingly close on two occasions as referee Tawel Camara Younoussa blew for half time.
The ding-dong affair continued in the second half and in the 52nd minute, after great work by Samuel Chukwueze, Iheanacho was gifted the ball to simply place beyond the reach of goalkeeper Kamara, but again lifted the ball too high.
Alex Iwobi and Iheanacho also missed chances as the game wore on, but the Leone Stars also had their own chances, with Turay, Kei Kamara and Mustapha Bundu raiding the Nigeria goal area several times.
The draw keeps Nigeria at the top of Group L with eight points, one more than second–placed Benin Republic, who also ended their encounter with Lesotho in Maseru scoreless.
Sierra Leone stay third with three points, and Lesotho bottom of the table with two.
The Super Eagles next take on Benin Republic on Match Day 5 in Cotonou in March, 2021.